Albay's wonders lure in tourists

November 13, 2014 6:47 am 

By Johnny C. Nunez

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 12 (PNA) — Hundreds of dolphins cavorting in the off-shore waters all day, a giant Christmas Tree fashioned out of camote, the 2015 Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, and a Christmas Village depicting leading cities of the world, now lure in tourists to Albay for the holidays.

Now the fastest-growing tourist destination in the country, Albay has become the quintessential treasury of world-class natural wonders, including the near perfect cone-shaped and active Mayon Volcano and the Cagsawa Ruins, among others.

Albay indeed is a haven of many old, new, exotic and mesmerizing natural and man-made creations. This year’s month-long Karangahan Albay Green Christmas Festival features another first in the country — a signature Christmas Tree fashioned from thousands of camote (sweet potatoes) tubers, standing tall to celebrate the province’s successful food production program. Albay is now the second largest camote producing province in the Philippines.

Visitors also find awesome its well protected environment; schools of dolphins cavorting and frolicking all day long in the Albay Gulf off Santo Domingo town for months now. Numbering hundreds to over a thousand, they provide a regular enjoyable show for tourists and local folks alike. Butandings or whale sharks are also known to frequent the Albay Gulf.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said the province has become a Dolphin sanctuary because of its “good ecological practices, including the mangrove reforestation under its CRABS++ (Coastal Resource Agri Bio-System) Development Program Strategy.

Albay’s biggest event this year, however, will be on Dec. 8-9 when it raises the curtains for the series of ministerial meetings leading to the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Summit. The APEC opening meetings are set at the Legazpi Oriental Hotel and the luxury Misibis Resort Hotel in Bacacay town, to be led by the economic ministers of its 21 member countries, with close to 1,000 other officials in attendance.

The province is at the forefront of the APEC summit, hosting its biggest opening salvo, according to Department of Foreign Affairs Deputy Director General Ma. Angelina M. Santa Catalina. Albay was chosen as one of the sites of the APEC meetings in the country for its “vitality and dynamism in development despite the Pacific risks.”

Salceda said with APEC now spotlighting Albay, they warmly invite and welcome visitors to come and experience the bliss of the Yuletide season in their province.

The governor said visitors will surely treasure the warmth of the Albayano hospitality and the wondrous sceneries of Albay, seen mostly around the globe in photographs and postcards. The province was the country’s fastest-growing destination in 2013, posting an impressive 66% growth.

Guests will not run out of destinations in Albay. When not busy attending APEC conferences at the Legazpi Oriental Hotel or the luxurious Misibis island resort in Bacacay town, they can join special or organized tours of strategic sites where they can savor the historic memory of the Cagsawa Ruins and the splendor of beautiful and world- famous Mayon Volcano, now restive at Alert Level 3 but which has recently quieted and simmered down.

Dolphin viewing in the resort town of Sto. Domingo and Butanding interactions in the nearby areas also offer relaxing and nature learning opportunities.

The Christmas Village in Malinao town, installed and lit up in a vast private park of the Llako Compound, never fails to captivate visitors. Its theme this year is “Christmas Around the World,” and features different popular global tourist destinations designed in vari-colored lights. It is a private endeavor designed to offer public entertainment during the holidays.

Albay’s “Karangahan” Festival is a month-long celebration of the Yuletide season. It features Albay’s ethnic cuisines, which have already found their way to world-class restaurants in Metro Manila and abroad. The festival also celebrates Green Christmas, a special dedication to environment protection with its anti-pollution and anti-plastics campaigns. The steadfast campaign against pollution, smoking and the use of firecrackers forms part of the annual festival.

Albay’s signature giant Christmas Tree fashioned out of camote is set up at the Penaranda Park in front of the Albay Provincial Capitol, the center of the celebration. (PNA)

SCS/JCN/EDS

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